Most of the headlines about this year’s elections in Texas revolve around the highly contentious – and expensive – race for the US Senate pitting Republican Sen. Ted Cruz against Rep. Beto O’Rourke, a Democrat from El Paso. It is without a doubt the marquee race of the season in this state and one to keep an eye on, particularly if the Democrat can close the gap for his party in a state where they finished 21 points behind Republicans in the last midterm election.
That race, and the overall tone set by President Donald Trump in his campaign rallies and his message to voters that the races up and down the ballot are a referendum on his presidency, may create opportunities for Democrats in contests for the Texas Legislature as well. One thing that’s perhaps unfortunately true is that many voters tend to punish the party that controls the White House even in races for offices that are not federal.
Since the Legislature decides many of the policies that business interests, including the construction industry, will have to deal with, it is appropriate to take a look at which races are particularly competitive heading into Tuesday’s election.
We have already seen record shattering numbers during the first days of early voting in Texas, but there’s an open question as to whether those numbers will hold through election day. Based on various polling data, there are quite a few races to keep an eye on. Here they are:
In the Texas Senate, GOP Sen. Konni Burton in Tarrant County faces a Democrat Beverly Powell. Sen. Don Huffines is in a competitive race with Democratic challenger Nathan Johnson. Sen. Joan Huffman faces a rematch with attorney Rita Lucido.
There are quite a few races that could be competitive for Texas House seats as well.
Rep. Morgan Meyer, a Republican from Dallas, faces Democratic challenger Joanna Cattanach. Rep. Matt Rinaldi, R-Irving, is in a tight race with Democrat Julie Johnson. Rep. Rodney Anderson, a Republican, is in a rematch with Democrat Terry Meza.
GOP Rep. Linda Koop represents one of the most diverse Texas House districts in the state and has a real race on her hands thanks to Democrat Ana-Maria Ramos. Also, in Dallas County, Democratic Rep. Victoria Neave is up against Deanna Metzger of Mesquite.
Staying in Dallas County, Republican Lisa Luby Ryan and Democrat John Turner are both running for the House seat being vacated by Rep. Jason Villalba, R-Dallas.
Down in Central Texas, Rep. Paul Workman, R-Austin, is in a race leaning in favor of Democratic challenger Vikki Goodwin. Rep. Jason Isaac, R-Dripping Springs, is departing the legislature and GOP candidate Ken Strange of Wimberley is up against Democrat Eric Zwiener of Driftwood.
There’s one other open seat in the Austin area as Rep. Larry Gonzales, R-Round Rock, is retiring. Two candidates from Round Rock are running for the seat: Democrat James Talarico is up against Republican Cynthia Flores.
Rep. Tony Dale, R-Cedar Park, is in a spirited race with John Bucy, a Democrat.
In Houston, Rep. Sarah Davis, R-West University Place, is in one of the true swing districts in Texas where Democrat Allison Sawyer has mounted an underwhelming challenge but the concern for the Republican has to do with whether Harris County overall trends more Democratic.
The same is true for GOP Rep. Dwayne Bohac, who’s Democratic challenger is Adam Milasincic.